Review: We’re All in this Room Together (Second City e.t.c.)

| June 29, 2012
Andel Sudik, Aidy Bryant, Mike Kosinski, Chris Witaske, Tawny Newsome, Michael Lehrer - Second City etc. Chicago, Dave Rentsauskas       
We’re All in 
    this Room Together

Written by the Ensemble 
Directed by Ryan Bernier
Second City e.t.c Theatre, 1608 N. Wells (map)
thru Aug 28  |  tickets: $23-$28   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review


Second City brings us a night of merry madness


Second City etc. production of "We're All in This Room Together." (bottom row - l-r) Andel Sudik, Michael Kosinski (middle row - l-r) Aidy Bryant, Michael Lehrer, Chris Witaske (top) Tawny Newsome © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2012 © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2012 — at The Second City.

Second City presents
We’re All in this Room Together

Review by Lawrence Bommer

There’s a therapeutic premise behind Second City e.t.c.’s 36th revue: Never confuse live theater–strangers sharing laughs in a dark room as they watch a show that will never be the same twice–with the simulated reality that eats our hours—Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, “Breaking News” that turns out trivial, texts, status updates, checking in and out, obsessive email surveillance.

(l-r) Mike Kosinski and Michael Lehrer in Second City e.t.c's production of "We're All in This Room Together."  (photo credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography 2012)These demented distractions, along with their cause and effect– the A.D.D. that fragments and fritters our focus–are mocked repeatedly during this very funny but otherwise unambitious comedy romp. The show becomes its own memory in the making. But that’s exactly its very humane, “Our Town”-style point: For this one night “We Are in This Room Together.”

What they do once we’re here bears the usual mixed results. The humor, as always, is based on the shock of recognition: We see our own inappropriate moments magnified into satire. Playing very well together, the young sextet, ably helmed by Ryan Bernier, take gentle aim at idiotic posts from Obama or Romney supporters, conversation interrupters, drones and the amoral technocrats who operate them (possibly coming to a sky near you), rich fools who drive Ferraris, overly honest couples whom the truth will not set free, and underpaid and overworked women.

The comics also do a bit of affirming: In a lovely first act finale, an audience member gets to pose as Mike Kosinski’s gay lover, then marry him in an elaborate—but intentionally familiar—ceremony. (The divorce must happen during the intermission.)

Endowed with sharp sketches that happily know how to build and when to end, the two hours feature the hilarious appearance of “Dolly Mae Daniels and Her Ex-Husband Band“, in which Aidy Bryant calmly introduces each former spouse and explains what went wrong—until she reaches the latest loser for whom she has too much unprocessed anger: She vents it in the most sidesplitting expletives ever launched on a Second City stage.

Michael Lehrer is skilled at playing a professional worrier and justifying his free-floating fears, as well as singing a ballad about being short in stature but tall in heart and depicting a real estate agent who literally freaks out before the flip of a light switch. Tawny Newsome scores as a bar patron who quickly picks up the color codes in her white friend’s vocabulary–but misses her own. There’s a wonderful sight gag in which half the cast personify TEQUILA, BEER, COCAINE and 5 HOUR ENERGY as puppeteers sending humans into uncontrollable misbehavior.

Andel Sudik and Aidy Bryant in Second City e.t.c's production of "We're All in This Room Together."  (photo credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography 2012)
(l-r) Chris Witaske, Aidy Bryant, Tommy, Tawny Newsome, Mike Kosinski, Michael Lehrer, Andel Sudik (photo: © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2012)
Aidy Bryant and Tawny Newsome - Second City Etc. Production of "We're All in This Room Together."  © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2012 (l-r) Mike Kosinski, Michael Lehrer and Andel Sudik in Second City Etc. production of "We're All in This Room Together."  (photo credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Best are the sketches that earn their length, like Chris Witaske’s increasingly manic encounters with unquietly desperate classmates at St. Charles High School’s 25th anniversary reunion. Also well developed are all the rapid-fire but credible changes that occur during a father-daughter social, a political debate where each candidate speaks from both sides of his mouth and mind, and a date where a closet atheist clumsily fakes faith to impress his Christian girlfriend.

These are solidly crafted, intelligent exaggerated portrays of fallible souls making themselves up as they go along. That’s the core of comedy: Second City is right to return to what it does best, making merry madness out of our evolving extremes. What W.S. Gilbert put so well about falling in love applies equally to whatever Second City mocks: “I know it’s a weakness but the weakness is so strong.”

Rating: ★★★

We’re All in this Room Together continues through August 28th at Second Cit e.t.c. Theatre, 1608 N. Wells, 2nd Floor (map), with performances Tuesday thru Thursday at 8pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm & 11pm, Sunday at 3pm & 7pm.  Tickets are $23-$28, and are available by phone (312-337-3992) or online here (check for half-price tickets at More information at

Mike Kosinski, Tawny Newsome and Chris Witaske in Second City e.t.c's production of "We're All in This Room Together."  (photo credit: Todd Rosenberg Photography)

Photos by Todd Rosenberg and Dave Rentauskas




Aidy Bryant, Mike Kosinski, Michael Lehrer, Tawny Newsome, Andel Sudik, Chris Witaske 

behind the scenes

Ryan Bernier (director); Jesse Case (musical director, sound design, original incidental music); Kyle Anderson (lighting, stage manager); Ashley Black (asst. director); Sarah Ross (set design); kClare Kemock (stylist); Alison Riley (producer); Jeremy Smith (asst. producer); Robin Hammond (marketing); Andrew Alexander (owner, executive producer); Diana Martinez (president); Dave Rentauskas, Todd Rosenberg (photos)


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Category: 2012 Reviews, Improv, Lawrence Bommer, New Work, Piper's Alley, Second City e.t.c., World Premier

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